Cemeteries are not only the earthly resting place of our loved ones, but also a vast collection of information and history. For those researching genealogy, they are an invaluable tool.
The City of Cleburne cemetery system comprises four cemeteries: Memorial, Rosehill, Greenlawn and Chambers. The four cemeteries total 109 acres.
The City of Cleburne purchased the Cleburne Memorial and Rosehill Cemeteries on January 16, 1959, and then Chambers Cemetery on August 31, 1964. As of 2023, over 23,600 single plots are occupied; this does not include double-depth plots. Within the developed area, there are approximately 600 available plots.
The Cleburne Memorial Cemetery was established in 1873, on an acre of donated property, from B.J. Chambers. In 1876, another 20 acres were donated by Jeremiah Easterwood and B.J. Chambers. In 1894, C.Y. and Ann Kouns donated a tract of land. Then in 1880, the Cemetery Association purchased an additional 20 acres to make 36 acres.
Cleburne Memorial is recognized and has a State of Texas historical marker located by the cemetery's entrance on Kouns St. This marker is in place due to the Cleburne Memorial Cemetery serving as the last resting place for 278 Confederate soldiers and seven Union soldiers.
The Cleburne Memorial Cemetery continues to have burials in the remaining family-owned lots. The Memorial has an estimated 11,000 burials and no remaining spaces for sale.
More History about Memorial Cemetery
Cleburne Memorial Cemetery was the third cemetery in Cleburne. A new cemetery was needed because the first cemetery was full and the second proved to be unsuitable for burials due to a formation of limestone some 50 feet thick underlying the location. In 1873, B.J. Chambers, a prominent Cleburne settler, donated one acre of land for the reburial of bodies. In 1876, five more acres were donated by Jeremiah Easterwood and Chambers donated another 10 acres. While many bodies were moved to the new location, some families objected to this practice and some bodies still remain beneath the homes and streets of Cleburne.
In 1894, C.Y. and Ann Kouns donated another tract of land for the cemetery to establish a Confederate Park for use by the Pat Cleburne Camp No. 88, United Confederate Veterans and their descendants. In 1880, the Cemetery Association purchased an additional 20 acres from R.J. Chambers to make the cemetery 36 acres. Some 12-14,000 bodies were buried in Memorial Cemetery between 1876 and the 1940s. In 1922, "The Confederate Memorial Park Committee" was formed. Its intent was to create a tribute to the Confederate cause by erecting a memorial arch and by cutting roadways through the park in a manner to "carry out the design of the Confederate battle flag." By June of 1922, the construction of the memorial arch was complete and two roadways were cut.
Although the arch still stands today, the cemetery is not laid out in the design of the Confederate battle flag. However, some 278 Confederate soldiers and seven Union soldiers are buried in the cemetery. Veterans of other wars are also laid to rest in Memorial Cemetery. There is a pauper's section of the cemetery and many of those graves are unmarked and the number of graves is unknown. More than 20,000 people are interred in this cemetery and there are many unidentified graves. The cemetery is still in use today.
On January 16, 1959, the City of Cleburne acquired the Rosehill Cemetery for one dollar ($1.00) from the now-defunct Cleburne Cemetery Association.
Rosehill is the largest of the four city-managed cemeteries, with approximately 65 acres. There are an estimated twelve thousand occupied plots, and as of 2023, 400 available spaces.
With a rich and storied past dating back to the mid-19th century, it stands as a testament to the area's cultural heritage and the lives of its residents. Established in 1867, Rosehill Cemetery served as the final resting place for notable figures who played significant roles in shaping the community.
The cemetery's serene landscape features graceful oak trees, well-maintained pathways, and carefully crafted headstones that reflect the artistry and craftsmanship of the eras gone by.
Greenlawn is located in between Rosehill and Chambers cemeteries. It is divided by a parking lot. Section A is on the west side, while Section B is on the east side. In total, this cemetery has over 500 burials.
The cemetery holds a significant place in the region's history and serves as a final resting place for generations of individuals who have called Cleburne their home. Greenlawn Cemetery has evolved into a sacred and serene memorial site, reflecting the community's heritage and honoring the memories of its residents.
The cemetery is now open to all individuals that would like to purchase a plot, but it was originally established as an African American cemetery.
Established in the 1800s, Chambers Cemetery was created for African American families in the area. On August 31, 1964, the City of Cleburne purchased the cemetery from Chambers Memorial Cemetery Association of Colored People. Unfortunately, during the transition, the City was not provided documentation on the cemetery, including sales, deed records, maps, or ledgers. Without these documents, the City does not have a way to verify ownership, burials or unmarked graves.
In 2019, the staff began working with Dallas College (formally Brookhaven College) and their Geospatial Technology Program facilitated by Professor Scott Sires. Professor Sires and his students are assisting the Cleburne Cemetery Department locate unmarked graves. Students use modern technology, including LIDAR (Long Distance and Ranging), Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), drones, GPS, and GIS, to locate unmarked graves and existing markers. Once the project is completed,
Professor Sires will present his finding to the City of Cleburne Cemetery Department. This project is free to the City and will assist us in resolving some of the current issues our department is dealing with when helping families in this cemetery. The cemetery staff is grateful for all the time and work donated by Professor Sires and his students. It is anticipated this project will be completed in 2024.